Interns/Co-ops Get a Leg Up on Dog-Eat-Dog Job Market

Interns make great employees.

Many years ago when I worked for a manufacturing firm we were active users of students from a local big name engineering school. (Initials GT, also known as the “North Avenue  Trade school”.) We had a very active Co-operative student program going with them and used students every quarter. They would work for a quarter and go to school for a quarter. As the corporate recruiting manager I interviewed and selected the finalist for the opportunities. The engineering department made the selections. All of these students got very good grounding in real-life engineering in a manufacturing firm. Some decided it was good, some decided they wanted to pursue a different type of engineering.
Those that stayed for the longer term often got job offers to work full time after graduation. They never had to go through the interview process. They already had the job sewed up. Win for them and a win for us. Those that didn’t get a job with us generally got offers pretty quickly due to the fact that they had the co-op experience in addition to the degree. Thus they also had a leg up on the competition as a result.
That advantage back then is still an advantage today. In the Monday, May 16, 2011 issue of the Wall Street Journal, writer Joe Light, reports that nearly 40% of the 2011 entry level positions in the job market will be filled by interns who have already served time in the job. Companies are hiring interns for two reasons. First, they have work experience. The “newness
and rough edges” have rubbed off of them and they are incorporated into the normal work at a faster pace and thus become more productive quickly. Therefore they have a quicker ROI than the typical newly minted student.
Secondly, by offering them jobs the companies are keeping competitors from getting them. According to Edwin Koc, research director for the National Association of Colleges and Employers, “Companies are essentially trying to take graduates out of the job market before there’s competition for them.”, as reported by Mr. Light. PriceWaterhouseCoopers plans on filling up to 45% of its entry level positions with interns in 2011. PWC likes it because interns are less likely to leave quickly because they have already gotten over the “fit” issues that arise with many non-intern workers.
Earlier this year I wrote about Matt Zinman and his company Matt makes a business out of making sure the intern relationship succeeds for all parties. So if you are considering using interns because of all the good things that can come from it then check it out.

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